April 29, 2011
Bill in State House May Change Right on Red Law

Will HB0064 Change the Right Turn on Red Law?

of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico (except in New York City) have allowed right turns on red since January 1, 1980, unless a sign otherwise prohibits this.”

 By Martha Rose Woodward


State Legislator from the 14th District, Ryan Haynes, says one issue he hears about more than almost anything else is the “right turn on red” law. Haynes thinks the law is somewhat unfair. Drivers think they have come to a stop and are shocked to get tickets saying they didn’t stop long enough. There has been an issue that the required time for a full stop is 3 to 8 seconds. Many people also disagree with the way the red light cameras are used, especially when there is no traffic coming in either direction. Drivers believe those who check the video tapes rule in favor of giving tickets more often than not. “Whose counting the seconds when you are driving?” asked one motorist who got a ticket at one of the 15 intersections that have red light cameras.

State Senator Stacey Campfield of the 7th District, and Congressman John Duncan also frequently hear about this issue from their constituents and agree with Haynes. “It’s not the number one issue, it’s not the budget or something like that, but it is something when you walk around and talk to people it’s actually on a lot of people’s minds and hearts,” Stacey Campfield said. Campfield sponsored a bill in the Tennessee Senate (SB0054) that calls for citations issued with evidence from the cameras to be invalid for rolling right turns. Campfield said there was not the initiative to change the law during last session, bnt he thinks this year will be different.

Congressman Duncan says, “The red light cameras have almost nothing to do with safety. The whole situation is that you can never, never, never satisfy government’s appetite for money or land. All this is about is to get more money paid to the government. If it was all about safety, they would not be giving tickets to people for turning right on a red light. But, they have found out that they were not making enough money for giving tickets for people running red lights, so they give tickets for turning right on red. It varies from place to place, but from 60% to 80% of the tickets are for people turning right on red lights.”

Campfield‘s bill SB#0054 states- “As introduced, prohibits a traffic citation in Knox County for not coming to a complete stop before turning right on red at certain intersections that is based solely on evidence from a traffic surveillance camera. - Amends TCA Section 55-8-198.”

Haynes filed for the introduction of bill HB0064 on January 14, 2011; Introduction in the P1C occurred on January 15, 2011; on February 7, 2011, the P2C was sent to the Transportation Committee, and on February 8, 2011 it was assigned to s/c General Sub of Transportation. “Somebody who blows through a red light deserves a ticket, but somebody rolling less than one mile per hour and gets a ticket, I just don’t view as a safety threat,” Rep. Haynes said. Haynes’ bill reads, “As introduced, deletes requirement that vehicle making right turn on red signal come to full and complete stop prior to making such turn.”

According to Wikipedia, “Right turn on red has been practiced in the western United States for more than 50 years, with the eastern states adopting the law in the 1970s to save fuel during the oil crisis in 1973. All 50 states, as well as the District